Why Should Homeowners Care About Conserving Energy?

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Have you heard the buzz about going green? Homeowners across the country have started to embrace a greener lifestyle, but what’s in it for them? Here are just a few of the reasons why homeowners should be concerned with energy conservation!

Improves your quality of life.

Everyone wants to feel comfortable in his or her home, and energy efficiency can help homeowners reach a new level of comfort. Do you have to snuggle up under blankets to stay warm or turn on a ceiling fan for extra cooling? Do you have to wear socks around the house because of icy cold floors? These problems can easily be fixed with insulation, which will reduce your energy use and make you more comfortable. This is just one way energy efficiency can improve the quality of your life. The opportunities to make your home more comfortable are endless, which is why so many homeowners love tackling green home improvement projects.

Saves you money.

Perhaps the main reason why homeowners start to conserve energy is to save money. Most homeowners spend around $2,000 a year on home energy bills, but this can be reduced by 20-30% if you make energy efficient upgrades in the home. The less energy you consume, the less you will have to spend on water and electric bills every month. This means you will have more money in your pocket to allocate towards your mortgage, savings, or paying down student loan debt.

Helps the environment.

The less energy that is consumed by homeowners, the more society can save valuable natural resources. Energy conservation can also reduce air pollution. Everything from cars to power plants contribute to air pollution, so the less you rely on these things, the more you can help keep the air clean.

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Improves the economy.

Besides the benefits it can bring to you personally, becoming more energy efficient at home can also help the economy. Energy efficient projects, such as installing solar panels on the roof of a building for example, can build jobs. In fact, in 2010 alone, there were over 800,000 jobs in America related to energy efficiency. As more homeowners begin to conserve energy, manufacturers are forced to adjust to this new type of consumer demand, thus conserving energy sparks innovation. If every homeowner made an effort to be more energy efficient, the results would be huge and far-reaching.

Now that you know why you should care about conserving energy, are you ready to start living green? Here are a few easy ways you can get started:

  • Switch to energy efficient light bulbs, which use 25-80% less energy than traditional bulbs.
  • Install a power strip. Leaving devices on can waste energy, but did you know that devices plugged directly into the wall can still waste energy while they’re off? Plug as many devices as you can into a power strip, and then turn the entire strip off when it’s not in use to cut energy off at the source.
  • Install a programmable thermostat, which can help you make sure you are not unnecessarily heating or cooling your home and wasting energy when no one is there.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to start conserving energy in your home, so why not start today?

M/I Homes takes many steps to ensure that your new home is energy efficient. We build all of our homes to our Whole Home Building Standards, and always work to make sure that our homes are up to the best energy ratings.

** Uma Campbell is a green loving yoga instructor and freelance writer. She currently lives in Southern California where she enjoys writing about natural living, health, and home design.@Umajcampbell www.umajcampbell.wordpress.com

Happy Homeowners: The Van Dusen Family

Our newest “Happy Homeowners” blog brings us to Scott and Donna Van Dusen, who recently built their new home in Tampa. Scott and Donna began their journey by choosing their lot and plan, and have shared with us their experience of the whole building process and living in their new M/I home.

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M/I Homes: Is this your first M/I Home and what convinced you to choose M/I Homes over another builder?

Scott and DonnaThis is our first M/I home.  When we moved to Tampa, FL, we knew we had certain things we were looking for in the home we plan to retire in.  Our list wasn’t extensive, but we knew the specifics we had as requirements for our home.  With all of the builders we visited and all of the floorplans we looked at, M/I Homes was the only one that didn’t require any compromise with our needs and wants.  Right down to the lot we chose.

M/I: Are you happy about how your home turned out?

S/D: Yes!!!  Our home is everything we dreamed of.  After 6 months of living in our home, we both look around in disbelief that it is really ours. M/I was able to make this our dream home.

M/I: What is your floorplan called and what features of your home do you especially love?

S/D: The Artilla.  The kitchen is everything we wanted, and the addition of the Butler’s Pantry was a really nice touch.  For me, the shower room was a big seller, and for my wife the bathtub.  The beautiful bay window in the breakfast nook overlooking our lake is picturesque.  I could list every item in our home and tell you it is something we especially love.

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M/I: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes. Did you pick your lot and floor plan to build the home, or was the home already started for you?

S/D: We had a fantastic experience with M/I Homes, and the experience started with Vicki.  She helped us picture every part of our home, right down to the view from the previously mentioned bay window. She helped us visualize what our home would become. Everything from the view to the endless possibilities we could have in our home. Vicki helped us not only detail all of the things we desired, but helped us discover some of the extras we now can’t live without.  Although she hoped we would buy one of the inventory homes, she led us to the perfect lot, and guided us through the design process, listening to all of the things we knew we wanted in our dream home.

M/I: Do you have any fun memories from building process?

S/D: Coming to the lot every weekend to see the progress of the week. Seeing all of our plans coming together, and imagining what would be when it was complete.  Of course, stopping by to see Vicki was fun as well.  Many laughs and long chats.

M/I: Was there something about your home that made you immediately know you wanted to move in?

S/D: The Artilla met all of our requirements in a home.  Not a single compromise, which was a first in our search.  The things swaying us the most was the lake front lot, the beautiful bay window in the breakfast nook overlooking the lake, and the shower in the Master Bathroom.

M/I: What do you like about your neighborhood / community?

S/D: Our home is in Estates at South Cove, a small gated community with just 47 homes and no CDD. All very important things we liked about our neighborhood.

M/IAnything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

S/D: Look at several builders, and make sure M/I is one of the builders you look at.  In our experience, no other builder compared.

M/I: What is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

S/D: Our favorite memory was sharing the excitement of moving in with our parents.  All of their help with the move, and their love of our new home was a special memory for us.  They were so proud and happy for us and the home we chose.

M/I: What is your favorite space in your new home?  Do you have any pictures of that space that you would like to share?

S/D: Our favorite space is the lanai and the pool.  We watch all of the wildlife on the lake, cool off in the pool, and watch beautiful sunsets.

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M/I: What was something that surprised you the most with building a new home?

S/D: We were most surprised by how involved we could be with the construction and how reactive Vicki and our Construction Superintendent, Charlie, were to our ideas.  They were happy to work with us to make these details part of the build.  They made some great suggestions too, making our home even more fantastic.

M/I: Any suggestions you would give for someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

S/D: Make a list of everything you want and expect in your home.  For us, M/I offered the only floorplan with no compromises.  If your list is anything like ours and our neighbors’, chances are M/I will have everything you want in a home.

M/I: Anything else you would like to add?

S/D: We thank Vicki, Charlie, and M/I Homes with heartfelt sincerity.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  This has been a great experience building our dream home, and we now have some great new friends.

** Scott and Donna live in the Tampa area. They love to take in their pool and to watch the beautiful sunsets from the backyard of their new M/I home.

How to Stay Organized When Downsizing Your Home for Retirement

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We all know that moving is tough. Not only do you have to sort, pack and haul your items to their new destinations, but you have to let go of objects that hold sentimental value.

Staying organized through this process can seem close to impossible, but the key to a smooth transition into retirement is preparation.

Give Yourself Enough Time

Downsizing does not happen overnight. You will need plenty of time to sort, pack, and move your belongings. If you wait until the last minute, you are more likely to throw everything in boxes and have a huge mess to sort out in your new home.

Write a list of everything you cannot live without—all the things you really need, everything you love, and things that are irreplaceable. The list will help you stay organized and on track.

Enlist Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That could be physical help with moving boxes or emotional help with making the hard decisions. Sharing memories with your loved ones can make sorting and organizing less overwhelming.

Do you have so many belongings that you don’t know where to begin? Time to bring in the experts. Senior move managers are specially trained to help older adults through the process of downsizing. These professionals can help you develop your move plan, organize and sort your belongings, arrange the removal of unwanted items, and even unpack and set up your new home.

Measure Your New Space

Before you start to move, measure your new home. See exactly how much space you have to work with. Will your current furniture fit, or will you need to buy something new?

You have the opportunity to start fresh. Make organization a priority before you even move. Resist the urge to fill every corner with furniture—it will only create more places for clutter to pile up. Invest in organizational shelving and make sure everything has a place.

Divide into Piles

Go through each room of the house and methodically sort your items. Make large piles of items you don’t want to keep and then subdivide these into giveaway, throwaway, and sell piles.

Sorting can be the most difficult part of downsizing. It forces us to confront our own bad spending habits. Be realistic when deciding what you need. Those pants you bought five years ago with the price tag still on? The designer rug rolled up in the corner that you got on discount? What about the bread maker you got for Christmas one year? If you haven’t used these items yet, chances are you never will.

Don’t Forget Sentimental Value

You may not use it regularly, but does it bring you joy to own? Does it have a history that you can’t bear to part with? While you need to be strict with yourself when downsizing, you shouldn’t forget about sentimental value.  Don’t throw away anything you would regret later.

Create a separate pile for sentimental items and don’t let it get too big. Set the pile aside for a while, return to it later, and ask yourself again if you truly need it. To create lasting memories, you can always take a picture and then pass the item along to someone else.

Label Your Boxes

After you’ve given or thrown away what you’ve decided not to keep, you are left with what you want to bring. Do not try to fill all the empty space in your new home. Leave some room for future purchases—and to breathe.

With less stuff, it should be easier to sort your belongings and put them into labeled boxes. Try sorting by location—when you unpack, you can bring the boxes labeled ‘kitchen supplies’ right to where they need to be.

Keep Essentials Close

When moving, the last thing you want to discover is your medications got lost in the shuffle or that your favorite pillow got sorted into the donate pile.

Pack a bag of essentials like toiletries, reading glasses, medications, pajamas, and a change of clothing. Keep it separate from your moving boxes where you can easily get to it. You don’t want to be running to the store the first night in your new home because you can’t find anything you need.

Live with Less Stress

Downsizing into a new home can be a breath of fresh air. After all of the hard work, you can settle into your new place with just what you need, and no more.

Downsizing means less stuff to unpack when you arrive and less to clean once you get settled. It is easier to stay organized when you have designed your new home to be organized from the start. Be free from clutter and live your golden retirement years with ease.

 

**Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

Create the Perfect Place for Kids to Dream and Play

Stylish light for kids room

image source: gcastd.org

 

Not many rooms in your home have such a huge design potential as a children’s bedroom. While living rooms and kitchens, for example, have to meet certain functional criteria and more rigid interior design rules, when decorating this room, you can often allow yourself much more creativity and freedom. This is because you are creating a one-of-a-kind space that reflects your child’s interests and personality. So let your imagination loose and involve your kids in the process to get the perfect bedroom for them to play, learn, and dream. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Kids Room 4

image source: decor.966v.com

A Corner to Play

Kids will always be kids whose favorite activity is to play. Try to set up a play area for them that they will love to spend time in. It does not have to be anything pretentious. Just a few toys and a colourful rug and you have already provided them endless hours of fun. Since play is an essential part of a child’s cognitive and motor development, make sure to add those toys that promote this development, such as building blocks, puzzles, balls, or musical instruments. But limit the number of toys in order to limit the amount of mess. And put plenty of baskets and shelves in the room with labels that will help your children put the toys back to their designated place after the playing time is over. This will teach your children organization from an early age.

Kids Room 2

image source: orkogold.com

A Corner to Learn

Setting up a cozy reading nook is the best way to encourage your little ones to read. Just like play, reading also improves imagination and other cognitive skills. And fostering the love for reading and learning in your kids will later make school a lot less stressful for all of you. Place a comfy chair in one corner of the room and install bookshelves at a hand’s reach, so your children could grab a book whenever they want to set out on a reading adventure. Don’t forget a good light! To reduce eyestrain, put the reading nook close to a window and install reading lamps for bedtime reading sessions.

Kids Room 5

image source: hgtv.com

A Corner to Create

Playing is fun and beneficial, but creating is even more so. Let your kiddos’ creativity reach its full potential by providing them with an art station. Stack this station with crayons, markers, collage paper, watercolours, notepads, and other art supplies that will inspire them. It is also an excellent idea to exhibit their artworks on the walls. This will lend a more personal feel to the room and make them feel proud.

Kids Room 3

image source: decor.966v.com

Whimsical Decoration

As we have already mentioned, a child’s bedroom is not meant to impress, but rather to amuse. This gives you the freedom to incorporate colors and décor details that you would not dare to use in any other room in your home. Wall decals are also a very popular detail in children’s bedrooms, since they are both effective and practical. If you are not artistic enough to paint a mural on your own, decals will do the job and you can take them down easily once your kids outgrow them. Wallpapers have also made a comeback. The colors and patterns of kids wallpaper are entirely up to your child’s preferences. You can also use leftovers from other rooms to make wallpaper collages. If you have not tried washi tape, you have to do it now. The things you can achieve with just a few rolls will leave you speechless. Besides, the tape is usually made of natural and recyclable materials like bamboo, hemp, tree bark, and rice, so it is completely child-friendly.

Your children will love and appreciate their personal space however you arrange it. Just keep in mind that safety comes first. So taking all measures of precaution should be your primary concern, especially if your kids are still toddlers.

**Lana Hawkins is an architecture student from Sydney. She enjoys writing about interior decoration and renovation, which she does regularly for Smooth Decorator. Lana is interested in sustainability and green building, as well as landscaping.

Happy Homeowners: The Wedemeyer Family

This new “Happy Homeowners Blog” is about Rebeca Wedemeyer, who purchased her new home in our Crown community in Maryland over a year and a half ago. Rebeca’s shared with us some of her thoughts and experiences with M/I’s building process!

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Rebeca and Maxi

M/I HomesIs this your first M/I home? What convinced you to choose M/I over another builder?

Rebeca: This is my first M/I home. The floorplan and layout are what sold me – hands down. It was creative and current and struck the right balance of relaxed and sophisticated.

M/I HomesWhat is your floorplan called and what features of your home do you especially love?

RebecaI have the Picasso plan. There are several features I love. Unlike many townhome layouts, the front door (which is on the ground floor) opens to a spacious and well-lit family room. It’s perfect for inviting neighbors in for a glass of wine at the spur of the moment – which I do often!  Also, the main level has an open floorplan with plenty of windows that are perfect for entertaining and just as perfect for a relaxed night at home. And of course, the rooftop terrace and loft are delightful. Finally, I absolutely love the windows. They are virtually floor to ceiling and there are plenty of them!

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Plenty of windows in this fabulous living room!

M/I HomesOverall, how was your experience with M/I Homes. Did you pick your lot and floor plan to build the home, or was the home already started for you?

RebecaI had a great experience. I moved from across the street and had had my eye on this development and the specific lot I picked. I got to start from scratch and select features to my taste.

M/I HomesDo you have any fun memories from building process?

RebecaLike most of us, I’m busy so I was glad the process was smooth and hassle-free. That said, some of the guys on the job got a big kick of me and Maxi (my 5-pound fox terrier) visiting the site often. I guess that’s the hazard of living across the street. They always seemed to enjoy the break!

M/I HomesWas there something about your home that made you immediately know you wanted to move in?

RebecaThe community itself is very well-designed. But when I saw the M/I Picasso model, I was sold!

M/I HomesWhat do you like about your neighborhood / community?

RebecaThere are several things I like about the community. First, there is plenty of space between homes. We have two-car garages and driveways which means there’s quite a bit of space between you and the neighbors behind you. It’s quite spacious in the front as well which is very unique in a townhome community. Also, they’ve done a great job creating green spaces and meeting places throughout the community. I have an end unit which overlooks a large landscaped brick pathway which leads right downtown. Neighbors and I will often meet on the benches to chat.

M/I HomesAnything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

RebecaWell, I would say the old adage – location, location, location – holds true. It’s worth your time to ensure that the location itself meets your lifestyle. Not only the general community but also the lot itself. I chose a “premium” lot with extra charges that were hefty. My friends thought I was nuts! Now that I’ve been here for a year and a half, they all get it. I’ve got the most beautiful views of green spaces and because I’m located literally in the center of the community on the walkway, I know all of my neighbors. I think sometimes people can be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to buying a house but living space and community are very important to me and there are few investments as reliable as real-estate. So why not live where you want.

M/I HomesWhat is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

RebecaI have organized three block parties since I’ve lived here. Without a doubt meeting all my wonderful neighbors and helping to build a positive community has been a real blessing.

M/I HomesWhat is your favorite space in your new home?  Do you have any pictures of that space that you would like to share?

RebecaThat’s a tricky one. I have several “favorite spaces” which is one thing I love so much about the home. In the mornings, I love sitting downstairs on the first floor with my morning cup of coffee. The paint colors look beautiful in the morning sun and unlike many ground floors, it is always cozy. On most evenings, I like curling up on the couch in the living room. I can see the entire community and often passing neighbors will look up to see if I’m around and want to come walk dogs together. In the winters, Maxi and I love the family room fireplace (off the kitchen) and we tend to spend a lot of time there. I also often work from home and have built my office right into the main living area. It’s beautiful. Finally, the kitchen is one of my favorite spots. It’s both beautiful and well-designed. I often use the expansive island as my “standup office,” and of course, when I have people over, we rarely make it to any other part of the house!

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Rebeca’s spacious kitchen and large island

M/I HomesWhat was something that surprised you the most with building a new home?

RebecaI’m fairly decisive and have had a new home built before so I didn’t have any surprises. No surprises is a good thing!

M/I HomesAny suggestions you would give for someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

RebecaI’d suggest asking to meet a homeowner or two with your same home plan. Most people are happy to show off their new home and they can often answer simple questions for you and also let you know what they’d do differently, if anything. Also, and this applies to any builder, take a risk and upgrade some features that are important to you. You’d be surprised how much a few key aspects can change the entire feel of your home. For me, I wanted the top of the line hardwood, kitchen cabinets, and iron pickets for my stairs but was just fine with the basics on other options.

**Rebeca lives in the DC area. When she’s not relaxing in her lovely M/I home with her dog Maxi, she can be found socializing with her neighbors.

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